2023 Best Online Speech Pathology Degrees
Speech pathologists treat speech disorders, communicative disorders, and language problems in children and adults. An online bachelor's in speech pathology helps prepare students for careers in this growing field. The online program curriculum can help build a thorough understanding of the behavioral, social, and physiological factors affecting human communication. Depending on state requirements, these online programs can also help prepare distance learners for licensure as speech pathologists and audiology assistants. Others use their bachelor's degrees as stepping stones toward master's degrees in speech pathology.
We've ranked the schools on our list by online enrollment so you can see which programs are most popular with students and make the right decision based on your goals. Read our methodology for more details about our list or learn about OnlineU.
List Of Accredited Online Speech Pathology Schools
|School||Online Enrollment||Annual Tuition|
|Arizona State University|
|Columbia College - SC||332||$19,890|
|Nova Southeastern University||292||$32,110|
|College of Our Lady of the Elms||80||$37,000|
Arizona State University
Arizona State University (ASU) is a large, public university offering an online Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Science requiring 117-120 credit hours. The program gives students an overview of human communication, language, and speech development. Some core courses often include Introduction to Phonetics, Literacy and Critical Inquiry, Language Science, and Hearing Science. ASU graduates may pursue careers as audiology assistants, speech-language pathology assistants, and research assistants.
At ASU, online students complete coursework asynchronously through the learning management system, Canvas. In addition, online students have access to disability support, counseling, time management coaching, success coaching, tech help, and military support services.
Maryville University is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders so graduates can work as speech-language pathology assistants or pursue a master's degree in the field. Graduating requires completing 128 credit hours, which generally takes four years of full-time enrollment. Maryville accepts 95% of applicants, and 57% of students graduate with degrees.
Maryville delivers its online curriculum via the Canvas learning management system. Distance learners enrolled in the online bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders take courses such as Language and Speech Acquisition, Education/Psychology of Exceptional Children, Counseling Skills for Healthcare Professionals, and The Physics of Light and Sound Waves. Students also need to complete a clinical experience before they can graduate. Online coursework also helps prepare students for licensure.
Columbia College - SC
Columbia College - SC is a private, nonprofit, and faith-based institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology in either a clinical or non-clinical track. Each track can help prepare students for speech-language pathology licensure in South Carolina while helping students focus on various speech and language characteristics and implement speech and language therapy. Columbia has a 97% acceptance and a 54% graduation rate.
Columbia uses Canvas so distance learners can participate in fully remote courses and engage with their peers. Those in the online speech-language pathology program take classes such as Fluency Disorders, Introduction to Audiology, Basics of Early Intervention, and Speech Sound Disorders — depending on the track chosen. The clinical path also requires completing two practicums in order to graduate.
Nova Southeastern University
Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a private, nonprofit institution serving Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native American Pacific Islanders. NSU offers an online Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language and Communication Disorders that can help prepare students for speech-language pathology assistant and audiology assistant licensure. This 120-credit program generally takes full-time students four years to complete. NSU has a 76% acceptance rate and a 47% graduation rate.
NSU uses Canvas so distance learners can access the online curriculum. Those enrolled in the online speech-language and communication disorders program take courses such as Neuroanatomy, Phonetics, The Science of Sound, and Communication Disorders through Film and Media. Students must also complete a capstone project to graduate. The requirement may be fulfilled through service learning, a research paper, or clinical experience.
College of Our Lady of the Elms
The College of Our Lady of the Elms (Elms College) is a small, private, nonprofit institution with a Roman Catholic foundation. Students can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SPLA). The 120-credit program lasts 20 months, and students have the ability to transfer up to 78 credit hours. Example courses from the program include Introduction to Communication Sciences and Disorders, Phonetics and Phonology, Normal Language Development, and Bases of Intervention. In addition, students are required to complete a clinical practicum at an approved site before enrolling in the program.
Elms College facilitates its online courses through the e-learning platform, Moodle. Online students must complete coursework in a synchronous format to meet weekly assignment and discussion deadlines.
Online Speech-Language Pathology Undergraduate Programs
Online speech-language pathology bachelor's programs are designed to provide a solid educational foundation to pursue graduate studies in the field or apply for entry-level speech-language pathologist positions. In some cases, you can begin working as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) in a clinic or similar healthcare setting with simply an associate degree. An online SLP certificate — which typically requires 24 credits and may also include clinical training hours — can also prepare you to work under the supervision of a licensed speech-language pathologist.
A bachelor's in speech pathology is ideal if your goal is to pursue graduate studies in the field to become a speech-language pathologist. However, degrees in areas such as psychology, linguistics, and language development can also be used as the foundation for becoming an SLP. In general, full-time students can complete an online speech therapy degree in four years, usually at their own pace within the program.
Online speech pathology bachelor's programs have certain prerequisites for admission. Applicants will need a high school diploma or GED and, in many cases, high scores from entrance exams, like the ACT or SAT. When submitting their online applications, prospective college students may be asked for high school transcripts, one or more letters of recommendation, a resume of jobs and extracurricular activities, and a personal statement or essay.
Some programs may require students to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA through their first two years of general education before being admitted to speech therapy study at the baccalaureate level. Additionally, because degrees in speech therapy are pre-professional and prepare students for further study, students may need to maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate.
Speech-Language Pathology Courses
An online speech pathology undergraduate program covers topics in liberal arts and sciences, as well as those related to speech, language, and hearing. Programs typically require 120 course hours, about 30 of which typically focus on language development, speech and language disorders, anatomy, physiology, and diagnostic procedures. Most programs also require supervised clinical placements, where students observe professional speech pathologists conducting diagnostic and treatment sessions. For online students, these can usually be arranged at facilities nearby.
Introduction to Linguistics
The study of linguistics covers topics including what language is, how humans use language, how children learn languages, and more. Students learn about basic linguistic terminology, principles, and subfields, including phonetics, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
Introduction to Speech Sound Disorders
This course focuses on identifying, understanding, and treating speech sound disorders. Students learn about phonological processes, differential diagnosis, and language development while gaining exposure to the causes and characteristics of speech sound disorders, as well as methods for diagnosing and treating these disorders.
Communication and Language Disorders in Children
Faculty teaching this class expose students to topics surrounding language development and communication in children. Students learn about theories and legislation regarding language development and communication. They also begin to develop practical skills, including how to communicate with parents about possible language development delays, assess a child's language skills, and recommend appropriate intervention methods.
In order to succeed as an SLP, students need to first gain an understanding of how language skills typically develop. This course is designed to help students understand how children learn to speak, major speech and language milestones, and theories of language development.
Multicultural Aspects of Communication Disorders
Cultural and language-specific factors can affect how communication disorders present. In this course, students develop a greater understanding of how a multicultural environment affects speech-language pathology. Students will also learn how foreign dialects, language differences, and cultural diversity can affect language learning.
What Can I Do With a Speech-Language Pathology Degree?
With a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology, you can pursue a range of jobs. A common path is to become a speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA). These workers support SLPs and gain potentially valuable exposure to the field while developing a professional network of contacts. The National Council of State Boards of Examiners details the state requirements for becoming an SLPA. You will need an advanced degree to become an SLP, speech-language researcher, or professor.
For more information on careers in the field, check out our Speech-Language Pathology Career Guide.
In addition to online speech pathology programs at the associate and bachelor's levels, there are master's degrees and doctorates in speech-language pathology. You can also earn a certificate in speech-language pathology. However, those interested in becoming licensed speech-language pathologists will need at least a master's degree in the field.
Faculty design SLP master's degrees for one purpose: to train the next generation of SLPs. Master's degrees in speech-language pathology contain more advanced coursework in communication science, speech and hearing assessment, and providing therapy across cultural divides. You can also tailor your career based on the patient populations, disorders, or work settings that interest you.
SLP master's programs typically include 36 credits of coursework and take around two years of full-time study to complete. Each program also includes a lengthy clinical placement, during which you assist a working SLP at a speech-language treatment facility. You're required to complete a clinical assignment to graduate, and your documentation of these work hours will help you earn a license to practice. You may be eligible for scholarships or financial aid in the form of student loans.
Doctoral degree programs are less common and come in two varieties:
- Clinical doctorates prepare you for a role as an advanced practitioner by requiring more research on a focused specialization than a master's program. Such programs have no standardized title, though "Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology" is common.
- PhD programs are for students who want to become professors of speech-language pathology. If you go this route, you'll write a dissertation based on an original research project.
Most doctoral programs require a master's degree in speech-language pathology to apply. Faculty, therefore, assume your familiarity with the field and instead focus on advanced research methodology, cutting-edge issues in speech and language, and organizational leadership.
Careers in Speech-Language Pathology
A bachelor's in speech pathology qualifies you for entry-level roles and some non-SLP careers. Graduates with an online bachelor's degree in speech therapy can work as SLPAs, rehabilitation support staff, or caregivers. They can find employment in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes.
Below are some jobs you can get with an undergraduate speech pathology degree:
Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
SLPAs are responsible for assisting SLPs in assessing and treating language disorders. SLPAs fall under the category of occupational therapy assistants and aids in the BLS, which is where the data points above are collected from. It should be noted that a 25% projected job growth is more than three times the U.S. average across all occupations.
Interpreters work to translate information from one language to another. They may work in a variety of settings, such as schools, courtrooms, and hospitals, translating for both individuals and groups. The job growth expected for this occupation is significantly higher than the national average.
English as a Second Language Teacher
ESL teachers help children and adults learn English as a second language. They focus on reading, writing, and verbal communication in English skills. It may be important to consider that this role is expecting a decline in job growth over the next decade. Still, despite a decline of 6%, approximately 4,700 job openings are projected each year through 2030.
Licensure and Certifications
Speech-language pathology professionals must be certified or licensed, depending on their state's requirements. These usually involve earning an advanced degree, completing a specified number of clinical hours, and passing an exam. In California, for example, applicants need at least a master's degree in SLP from an accredited institution, 300 supervised clinical practicum hours, 36 additional weeks of full-time professional experience, and they need to pass a state board exam.
While a graduate degree and state licensure are required to work as a speech pathologist, specialized certifications can also benefit professionals with bachelor's degrees. Certification tells potential employers and clients that a practitioner has the professional training and experience to provide quality care. Some certifications also require practitioners to continue their education, ensuring they are up to date on best practices and scientific research in their field.
Below are two certifications you can get with an online bachelor's in speech pathology:
You can become a certified SLPA after getting an online bachelor's, associate degree, or certificate in a related speech therapy area from an accredited institution. Individuals may also apply if they have a minimum of a two-year degree with relevant coursework in communication disorders or language development. They must pay a one-time fee, submit their application materials, and pass the Assistants Certification Exam.
Those who don't meet the C-SLPA criteria can still become certified audiology assistants. Applicants must have either a bachelor's degree, high school diploma, GED, or a military job series certificate in audiology. Practical hour requirements for certification vary based on the applicant's educational qualifications.
Is a Bachelor's in Speech Pathology Worth It?
Most prospective college students wonder whether it's worth investing time and money into higher education. While you may be interested in speech-language pathology as a field, it's important to consider a variety of factors before enrolling in an online bachelor's program. You should carefully evaluate your personal commitments, financial circumstances, and career goals, as well as the prospect of pursuing an online degree.
Online programs typically allow students to learn at their own pace, so a distance learning format may be a suitable alternative to an in-person degree if you work or have family commitments. However, for students who value the opportunity to engage regularly with their peers, the online format may prove alienating.
You may also want to consider this list of additional pros and cons before deciding to enroll in an online bachelor's in speech pathology:
- Job prospects for SLPAs are expected to increase 4-7%This means that there is a good chance you'll find employment in this field after graduating.
- Speech pathologist salaries tend to be higher than the national average, with SLPs earning $79,060 per year.
- A bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology is insufficient if you hope to become a practicing speech-language pathologist. If your goal is to diagnose and treat communication disorders, you will need a master's degree, which will require an additional investment of time and money.
- Learning online may limit opportunities to network with faculty and potential employers.
- You may be required to obtain additional licensures and certifications in order to work as an SLPA.
How to Choose a Speech Pathology Program
When considering your educational options, some factors will matter more to you than others. It's up to you to weigh the various criteria, but we've included some questions here that may help you choose a program to fit your needs.
Accreditation is a complicated subject, but several considerations should help narrow your range of choices for a speech-language pathology degree. ASHA has demonstrated a preference for this form of accreditation, and it's required for licensure in some states.
Cost is hugely important to most enrollees. Tuition is the largest portion of expenses, but you also need to account for fees, books, and supplies. On-campus students also have to consider either room and board or commuting costs, although this is a major factor that distance learners can disregard.
Accreditation is the first indicator of a college's quality, but it can help to know whether graduates of a particular program find jobs that pay relatively well. Many schools highlight their job placement rates, and you can often find them on the school's website. You can also consult student reviews, which may give some insight into how alumni have fared in the job market.
You might consider online if you want to attend a distant school but don't want to disrupt your life too much or if the flexibility of asynchronous learning appeals to you. On the other hand, campus learning might offer the traditional college experience that many students crave.
The possibilities are endless. You may qualify for a considerable discount because a close relative works at a college, or you may have heard good reports about a school's accommodations for disabilities. In general, it's a good idea to research the quality of each school's services, such as the financial aid office, library, and tutoring opportunities.
FAQs About Online Bachelor's Degrees in Speech-Language Pathology
What Is the Difference Between a Speech Therapist and a Speech Pathologist?
There's technically no such thing as a speech therapist or speech pathologist because the healthcare industry uses the term "speech-language pathologist." However, non-experts use both terms interchangeably, and they all refer to the same occupation.
What Education Is Required to Be a Speech Therapist?
You must have a master's degree in speech-language pathology before you can legally practice as an SLP. In addition, your graduate program must hold accreditation from the Council on Academic Accreditation, and you will probably need a state license or credential.
Is a BA or BS Better for Speech Pathology?
If you choose to major in speech pathology, you can either get an online Bachelor of Arts (BA) or an online Bachelor of Science (BS). Though both SLP programs teach students about communication sciences disorders and give them experience in clinical practice, there are different electives students can take in each. Despite the overlap in core coursework, a science-oriented BS may offer a slight advantage over a liberal arts-oriented BA if your goal is to pursue graduate studies in speech-language pathology.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Speech Pathologist?
It will probably take you at least eight years to become a speech pathologist. Administrators design bachelor's degrees to last four years and SLP master's programs to last three years with a full-time schedule. You then need to complete a supervised clinical fellowship for about nine months before taking the licensure exam and waiting for your results.
For students looking to pursue meaningful careers helping people to develop language and communication skills, a major in speech pathology could be a good start. While students interested in becoming speech-language pathologists will need a master's degree in speech pathology and additional certifications, students can begin to prepare for their career with a bachelor's degree in this field.
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Speech Pathology
If you want to earn your master's in speech pathology online, explore our 2023 list of the best online programs and read about your best options.
2023 Best Online Master's in Counseling Degrees
View rankings of the best online master's degrees in counseling based on alumni salaries. Read on to learn about coursework, career options, and more.